National Poetry Month 2018

Still Life by Sarah Hazel

My good friend, Sarah Hazel, is an artist in Houston, Texas. She answered my call for paintings for this poetry project. You can find her amazing oil paintings here on her website.

I get my inspiration for writing from many places. From Poets & Writers comes The Time is Now with a poetry prompt each week. This week we were prompted to write after e.e. cummings Spring is like. I borrowed the line “Spring is like a perhaps hand.”

Spring is like a perhaps hand
holding high
a watering hose
drenching earth new,
green-blown grass,
soil growing soft
and sensual.

Spring is like
a perhaps hand placing
flowers in a vase
on a plate of green salad,
tall and tender
without thunderous applause.

National Poetry Month 2018


Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden

My dog lies heavy as the storm moves through.
Worry keeps him close.
Rain streaks the window with tears.
We are safe inside.

Infinite line of tangled roots and vines,
God’s garden grows wild.
Endless labyrinth of life to life.
We are safe inside.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018

Commentary: In this poem, I began with what was happening in the moment.  A storm was pounding, and my dog was afraid.  I held him on my lap.  As he relaxed, much like an infant, he became heavier on my lap.  I then moved to the drawing for interpretation.  I saw the white lines as the lines of connection of humanity.  When I looked for a synonym for connection, I found labyrinth which alliterated with life to life.

From PoemCrazy #25: “there may be a measurable field of energy for the buzz of life around moments and things.  Poems are alive this way. When a poem comes to me I have to tend to it like a small fish, a possum, a snake or a puppy, depending on the poem.  It’s often kicking and unruly.”

National Poetry Month 2018

Poetry Friday round-up is with Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge.


Today the Kidlitosphere is celebrating Lee Bennett Hopkins’ 80th birthday.  Click the Poetry Friday button to go to Robyn Hood Black’s site to see more posts for this celebration. How fun to light up cyberspace with candles and confetti!


Lee Bennett Hopkins is well known as an anthologist.  He collects the best children poets and puts them together in unique ways.  His most recent collection is World Make Way. 

World Make Way

This book is a collection of ekphrastic poetry, poetry about art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The book opens with the following quote:

Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.

Leonardo da Vinci

This month I’ve been writing poems about my father’s art and this quote speaks to what I believe to be true;  My father’s art is poetry that is seen.

Lee’s poetry collections are a canvas for poets, a place to find words that can be felt rather than seen.  To write my poem today, I have chosen a line from Early Evening by Charles Ghinga.

Steamboat by John Gibson


Coming Home

We are coming home
stretched across a canvas of time
waiting for steam to rise

into still humid air.
We carry a load
of dreams from far

away where seas meet rivers.
We are born of the river,
her muddy banks birthed

strength to carry us
through toil and trouble
all the way home.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018



National Poetry Month 2018




Riverbank (Upside down)

A wild forest lives
in the reflections
on Riverbank.
A forest of trees to swim in,
a bouquet of trees,
and the moon there.
See it winking at you?
The moon draws us into
where a wild forest lives.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018

PoemCrazy #24: “I sometimes think poems come from electricity in the air, a hum inside, impulses we can feel in our body…Stand on your head for as long as possible. Notice details upside down…Do anything new.” (p. 88, 90)

With my students, I am presenting Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s daily poetry prompt on her site The Poem Farm.  Yesterday we wrote using circular structure.  This poem uses that structure because I felt the echo worked well with looking at the drawing upside down.

National Poetry Month 2018


After Vespers by John Gibson


The mist calls them forth
from Vespers into evening.

Prayers echo like bells,
rising like incense before them.

Brother Anselm hums Hodie
holding tones with his breath.

Together they pray, again and again
invoking blessings, psalms, forgiveness

for a world in peril, a world outside the mist,
a world released from her sins.

Now, Lord, let your servant depart in peace.

This drawing is set at St. Joseph’s Abbey near Covington, LA. where my father’s best childhood friend, Billy, was a Benedictine monk.  Brother Anselm, as he was named in the Abbey, is the short one in the drawing. I remember fondly visiting him there.  He was a musician, organist and cantor, so I can imagine him humming after the service.  He also had a hilarious, ironic wit that I couldn’t capture in this poem.  Brother Anselm died a few years ago, but his spirit lives on in the music of St. Joseph’s Abbey.

National Poetry Month 2018

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .


Afternoon Light by John Gibson

Sometimes it’s in the details of the day,
these spokes of wheel, pattern of brick, leaf fall.

Sometimes it’s the conversation you hear,
standing by, eavesdropping, that gossip-talk.

Sometimes it’s the way you walk to and fro,
wandering through tall grass and stepping into light.

–Margaret Simon, (c) 2018

“A poet needs to keep his wilderness alive inside him.” Stanley Kunitz

As I write a poem every day to my father’s incredible art, I feel unworthy, like a child waiting for a parent’s approval.  When I wrote the poem above and many of the ones I’ve done this month, I hear the echo of a first line in my head.  I go with it and follow it through the path to a poem.  Sometimes I don’t think it’s really me writing.  More like scribing.  The Stanley Kunitz quote above speaks to this wilderness inside me where poems live.  I’ve decided to trust this voice even when I don’t really understand her.






#NPM2018: Raven

National Poetry Month 2018

Raven by John Gibson

Raven lights a fire
before dawning of sunrise,
forewarning of death,

calms darkness before released
hatred causes senseless grief.

Tanka: The Japanese tanka is a thirty-one-syllable poem, traditionally written in a single unbroken line. A form of waka, Japanese song or verse, tanka translates as “short song,” and is better known in its five-line, 5/7/5/7/7 syllable count form. From Poets.org

“The Irish goddess, Morrighan, had a number of different guises. In her aspect as bloodthirsty goddess of war, she was thought to be present on the battlefield in the form of a raven.” From Trees for Life, Mythology and Folklore.